DR FEROZ OSMAN-LATIB
Lecturer, Author and Practitioner in Complementary & Alternative Medicine
South Africa – Registered Doctor of Chinese Medicine & Acupuncture (AHPCSA)
Australia – Registered Practitioner of Acupuncture (AHPRA)
How to protect yourself from the Corona Virus
On January the 30th, 2020 the World Health Organisation declared the Coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19) as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. The virus started spreading from Wuhan, China where the first case was documented in December 2019.
At the time of writing this, more than 83 000 people worldwide have been infected with close to 3000 deaths from the disease. Confirmed cases have been reported in 52 countries. These are the official numbers although there are many reports of large numbers of undocumented cases so we do not yet know the full extent of the spread and impact. Health experts predict that it will spread more rapidly possibly reaching every country.
This disease produces fever, cough and difficulty breathing and may progress to pneumonia and acute respiratory distress especially in immunocompromised and weak individuals.
What can you do to protect yourself from the perspective of Sunnah, Complementary Medicine and Prophetic Medicine?
The coronavirus like any other virus is a creation of Allah ﷻ and it is subject to the power and decree of Allah ﷻ. Whomsoever Allah ﷻ decrees to get the virus will contract it and whomsoever Allah ﷻ decrees to protect will be protected. Whomsoever’s death is written cannot delay it and whomsoever is decreed to live will recover. At the same time Allah ﷻ has created this world as a world of asbaab (means) and it is necessary upon us to adopt the means available to us and take precautions as this is the sunnah of the Prophet ﷺ and this is the middle path.
Our approach therefore is three tiered:
1) Trusting in Allah ﷻ and seeking his assistance and protection through obedience and duaa
2) Adopting the sunnah that we are taught in these cases
3) Using what is available to us to prevent and treat coronavirus infections
Trusting in Allah ﷻ and seeking assistance
Do not leave the area where a plague has emerged and do not enter such an area
If we are in the area where the epidemic has broken out and especially if there is a chance that we were exposed to the infection then trust in Allah ﷻ and remain in that area or locality. If you pass away from the illness you will have the death of a shaheed and if you recover you will be greatly rewarded for your action. (If you have not been exposed or you will be entering into a quarantine then it will be fine to leave the area.)
If you are not in the area then do not travel to such places where the epidemic is spreading.
It is narrated from ‘Abd ar-Rahmaan ibn ‘Awf (may Allah be pleased with him) that he said: I heard the Messenger of Allah ﷺ say: “If you hear that it (the plague) is in a land, do not go there, and if it breaks out in a land where you are, do not leave, fleeing from it.” (Bukhari/Muslim)
It is narrated that Usaamah ibn Zayd (may Allah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “The plague is a calamity (or a punishment) that was sent upon the Children of Israel, or upon those who came before you. If you hear of it in some land, do not go there, and if it breaks out in a land where you are, do not leave, fleeing from it.” (Bukhari/Muslim)
Recite this du’aa frequently with conviction that Allah ﷻ is powerful and will accept it
Refrain from the disobedience of Allah ﷺ
The disobedience of Allah ﷻ attracts the anger of Allah ﷻ which can result in the non-acceptance of duaas as the least effect. In these times especially we should avoid these sins:
1) Neglect and non-performance of salaah
2) Wearing clothing that does not cover the awra or which is tight fitting and reveals the shape of the body
3) Women travelling the musaafir distance or more without a mahram
4) Imitating the people of other religions (in clothing, hairstyles etc)
5) Disobedience and rudeness to parents
6) Non-payment of zakaat
8) Men allowing the trousers to fall below the ankles
9) Involvement in interest loans
10) Oppressing others especially in withholding their monetary rights like dowry, nafaqa and inheritance
Adopting the Sunnah
There are many sunan that have been shown to have the benefit of reducing the chance of infections, some of these are mentioned below:
1) Washing hands before eating and after using the toilet. Also practice on the preferred act of renewing your wudhu for each salaah if you are able to – (Washing hands has been shown to be more effective at prevention of infection that the use of a face mask. This is well documented)
2) Cover food and containers in the evening
3) Keep shoes out of the home
4) Adopt breastfeeding (This passes on the mothers immunity to the child)
5) Lengthen the beard (Men who shave their beards have been found to have a higher degree of harmful bacteria on the skin than those who keep a beard and they also found that certain substances were contained in the beard that killed off harmful bacteria as well)
6) Honey, black seed, dates – These three items can be used to support the bodys strength and immune function. However if the patient is diabetic then the high glucose content can have the opposite effect and a consultation with a qualified practitioner should be sought in order to adopt the best approach. The overarching sunnah in medicine is to seek treatment from an expert doctor who has been duly trained and is qualified to treat. Remember that “A half doctor (not qualified and trained properly) is a danger to your life and a half aalim/sheikh is a danger to your Imaan”
7) Olive oil – Olive oils and other healthy oils rubbed into the hair and the skin provide a layer of protection from many viruses and bacteria. Some should be used around the ears and nose of kids and the elderly as well as many viruses are inactivated by contact with such beneficial oils.
There are many other sunan as well that we do not know the full wisdom of. If we want to get the full benefit we should adopt every sunnah whether we know the worldly benefit of it or not.
Using the means available and taking precautions
Face masks? face masks are becoming more and more difficult to get but before you go out and get one keep in mind that a face mask is only useful for one who is already infected or someone who is working directly with infected patients. For the rest of the population hand washing is shown to be more effective and a face mask may actually increase the risk of infection if not used properly.
Eat well, sleep well, exercise
The effectiveness of a virus is based on how weak your immune system is. Currently the mortality rate from the virus is about 2%, this means that approximately 2% of people who get infected die from the illness and these are mostly elderly individuals. The reason is because the immune system in an elderly person (and a child) is weaker. It therefore is obvious that if our immune system is healthy there is less chance of the infection becoming severe or contracting the virus in the first place. Eating well and sleeping well is necessary for healthy immune system function. Avoid late nights and make sure to get at least 6 hours of continuous sleep in the evening. Eat a healthy and balanced diet with a variety of food types. Avoid soft drinks completely and reduce items with added sugar. A regular exercise routine also keeps the immune system functioning better.
Avoiding exposure to cold winds
This used to be common sense before but nowadays we see that many people, especially teenagers, not wearing warm clothing and being frequently exposed to cold environments. This increases the chance of infection and lowers the immune function.
Care should be taken of cold drafts entering the home or in the workplace. Working under a cold blowing airconditioner can also cause cold and flu symptoms and weaken immune function.
Most people are not getting the required nutrients from their diet and therefore a supplement can be used based on the individuals own requirements. Nutrients which tend to be deficient and are important for healthy immune function include:
Vitamin C is useful if a person has already contracted an infection where there are a lot of heat signs present.
If one already has signs of infection then some items which are available in the home may be used to provide relief. These include:
1) Ginger tea – This can be made by slicing a few pieces of fresh ginger and boiling in water, Then drink the water only with some added brown sugar to provide relief from an infection that is in the initial stages and characterised by feeling cold and not very high fever. Some turmeric can be added as well. If the infection is characterised by a higher fever and other heat signs then instead of ginger, mint should be used as it is cooling in nature.
2) Chicken and ginger soups – These are good for helping recovery from colds and flus
3) Cupping – Here I am talking about dry cupping, (which doesn’t involve the removal of blood). This can help in colds and flus when applied on the upper back area.
4) Burning incense – The use of pure perfume burners is known to also combat viruses and bacteria in the air. Oud (Frankincense), Sandalwood etc can be burnt in the home to achieve this benefit.
When adopting home remedies please be aware that if the patient has a severe infection it is necessary to seek professional medical treatment from a qualified and registered primary practitioner (western or natural) as delaying or avoiding it may cause the illness to worsen. If it is an emergency the patient should be admitted to a hospital. If the illness is mild or in the early stages, then using home remedies may be sufficient but if there is any worsening of the condition a practitioner should be consulted.
Herbal Immune boosters
There are specific medicinals that have the effect of improving of improving immune function, especially in those with a compromised immune system, those who frequently catch colds and flus, the elderly and children. There are many of the products available nowadays on the market and touted to be effective but unfortunately most are either not put together correctly in terms of herbal principles or the potency is too weak to have a proper effect. Some are however effective and amongst these one of the most effective is Reishi mushroom which is proven to have anti-viral, anti-cancer, adaptogenic and immune strengthening functions. (A good supplement with Reishi Mushroom and other anti-viral and immune supporting ingredients which I developed for immune weakness and viral illness many years ago is available from here:> Revivo)
Generally the use of herbal substances should be prescribed by someone who is trained in herbal medicine as they will be able to identify the temperament of the individual (eg cold, hot, dry, moist) and then prescribe that which fits the individual patient and the illness presenting which will also have its own characteristics.
Other herbs and their functions related to the immune system and viral illness:
Astragalus – Strengthens lung function and immunity but should only be used for prevention, not during the infection (May also aggravate high blood pressure and migraine headaches in susceptible individuals)
Codonopsis Pilosulae – Increases white blood cell count
Radix Ginseng – Useful for the elderly but can increase blood pressure. Not to be used in young patients (<40)
Moringa – Can strengthen the body in patients with cold signs. Avoid in patients with heat.
Echinacea – Useful during the infection in patients with heat signs
The coronavirus is not something that should put us into a panic. We have Allah ﷻ in whom we trust and who has provided us with the beautiful sunnah to follow in all times and conditions. Allah ﷻ has also created in this world a cure for every disease and we should seek it out and adopt it as the means of protection and cure while knowing that everything is in His hands. May Allah ﷻ protect us from all types of diseases and calamities. Aameen.